Volunteer groups hopeful of taking over all 21 under-threat Northants libraries

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Community groups could come to the rescue of all the 21 libraries under threat in the county.

The libraries, which are run and managed by Northamptonshire County Council (NCC), are due to close their doors on August 31 as part of multi-million-pound cuts by the soon-to-be abolished authority.

The move will see only the largest 15 libraries in the county remain open. Towns such as Rothwell and Thrapston are all set to be without a library.

However, there could be reprieve as every one of the 21 threatened libraries has had a community group express an interest in taking over the running of the facility.

A spokesman for NCC said: “We can confirm that we received at least one registration of interest for each of the 21 libraries earmarked for decommissioning. The next stage will be to work with groups that have registered an interest to look at their financial plans before determining whether they constitute viable proposals and can be taken forward.”

The county authority has not released details at this stage of community groups who could be stepping up to take over. A group in Desborough has already made its intentions public.

There have been mass protests about the cuts with Northampton cult novelist Alan Moore heavily criticising the council for its “anti-culture” move.

The next step for the groups is to put together a business plan to run as an independent library. They have until May 31 to do this and if they succeed in their bids, the group will have responsibility for all costs of running the service and they can also put forward a case to buy or lease the existing building.

There are a series of different packages that groups wishing to run an independent library can opt for. The county council will make a one-off gift of 80 per cent of the existing stock for groups who want to lease or buy the building.

The threatened closures will have a big impact on the provision of universal children’s services. Many of the early years services were moved to libraries two years ago when the county authority closed a number of children’s centres in Northamptonshire. However the services, such as the popular rhymetime, will now need to find another home.

The county authority is currently consulting on these changes and people can have their say on line by completing an online survey here https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/UniversalChildrenServices2018

The libraries which are under threat are: Abington, Danesholme, Deanshanger, Desborough, Earls Barton , Finedon, Far Cotton, Higham Ferrers, Irchester, Kingsthorpe, Long Buckby, Middleton Cheney, Moulton, Raunds, Roade, Rothwell, St James, Thrapston, Wollaston, Woodford Halse and Wootton.